The artwork for Warpaint’s eponymous second album suits the band’s sound. The four members of the band appear translucent and superimposed upon one another, the four musicians coming together as one entity in a trance-like haze. This is a band very aware of how to best capitalize on their distinctive sound, both a blessing and a potential red flag for a sophomore album attempt. Yet despite the bland description of “dreamy atmospherics,” there has always been something distinctively Warpaint at the heart of their output, and their second effort pushes this sentiment into fresh musical spaces.
Their itch to expand their sonic palette most obviously manifests itself in experimentations with conventions of rhythm-heavy electro, which consistently land well throughout the album. Complementary interactions of punchy drum and bass offset the unsettling lyrical content of “Disco/Very,” and “Biggy” uses a looping synth melody as a base for a robust percussive build. Production on such tracks is crisp thanks to Flood and Nigel Godrich and favors this shift in the band’s sound. While this focus on rhythm distinguishes the album as a whole, Warpaint avoids a one-note sophomore album through various mood shifts. What could have been the token bland acoustic track, “Teese” instead explores more somber atmospherics through a balance of delicacy and buoyancy. Elsewhere, a bent-string riff couples with stark drums on “CC” to create a tone reminiscent of darker Massive Attack tracks. Though vocal melodies do occasionally meander off the rails, such songwriting missteps demonstrate a willingness to occasionally miss the mark that makes it possible for the band’s sound to evolve.
Warpaint’s avoidance of playing it safe allows them to dodge the classical sophomore slump labels of “boring” or “predictable.” As a progression forward from 2010’s The Fool, Warpaint offers a reinvigorating change of pace as well as a logical next step. Beyond affirming the band’s existence, the album documents a band whose discography will consistently deliver.